Many people can close their eyes and tell you what their dream home looks like. For some, it's a palatial estate, and for others, it's a three-bedroom Cape Cod with a white picket fence. Depending upon a person's finances and stage in life, their definition of their dream home can change. To help you define the home of your dreams, here are seven easy steps to set you on your journey.
- Create an Idea Book.
An idea book is one of your best tools as you begin your house hunt. Homes literally come in all shapes and sizes with more features and amenities than you can probably count. In your idea book, outline what you need and want from your space. Jotting these thoughts down allows you to easily organize them into must-have lists as you continue the process.
- It's Okay to Dream.
It is okay to dream a little when you make the decision to buy a house. Everyone wants to live in a space you truly love. Give yourself some time to dream and explore all the possibilities. Spend time on Pinterest or other online home galleries finding the features that you would include in your dream home.
- Determine a Baseline.
Before you can narrow your wish list into a shopping list for your new home, create a baseline. Your baseline list includes the most basic features and requirements to consider when you buy a new house. Typically, your baseline list should include the number of bedrooms, a realistic price range, a basic home style, and lot size.
- Don't Forget About the Yard
It is difficult to buy a house if the yard does not meet your family's needs. Would you use a swimming pool? Do you want significant acreage or a garden plot? Will you want an outdoor space for entertaining? Add a list of yard must-haves and wants to your idea book.
- Location, Location, Location
Consider the amenities your neighborhood should include, such as access to public transportation, parks, and good schools. Try to limit your ideal neighborhood list to three to five locations.
- Dollars That Make Sense
Make sure you have a full understanding of how much home you can afford. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a home only to find it is out of your budget. Examine your current financial situation and get pre-qualified for a home loan before you start your home search.
- Prioritize Your List
After going through all of the detailed lists in your idea notebook, narrow your lists into a single, streamlined home needs list. Prioritize it into wants and needs. Try using a 1-4 scale, assigning "1" to must-have items, "2 and 3" to ideal items, and "4" to things you would like but could live without.
Talking to your real estate agent is one of the best first steps in securing your dream home. They'll help you find options that fit into your budget and have all the features you want.